Apr 3, 2022 - World

U.S. repatriates Guantánamo Bay detainee to Algeria

16 October 2018, Cuba, Guantanamo Bay: A US-American flag blows behind a barbed wire fence in the wind.

The Guantanamo Bay detention facility on Cuba in 2018. Photo: Maren Hennemuth/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

An Algerian man has been released from Guantánamo Bay and sent back home after spending nearly 20 years at the detention center, the Pentagon announced Sunday.

Why it matters: The repatriation of Sufyian Barhoumi, 48, was approved during the Obama administration, when a review board determined in 2016 that he was "was no longer necessary to protect against a continuing significant threat" to U.S. national security, per a Defense Department statement.

The big picture: Barhoumi was accused of participating in a bomb plot against the U.S. after being captured in Pakistan with a senior al-Qaeda member in 2002, per the BBC.

  • The case in which it was alleged he was a bomb-making instructor was abandoned after a civilian court ruled that the Pentagon didn't have the "authority to charge the civilian offense of 'providing material support to terrorism' as a war crime," the New York Times notes.

What they're saying: "The United States appreciates the willingness of Algeria, and other partners to support ongoing U.S. efforts toward a deliberate and thorough process focused on responsibly reducing the detainee population and ultimately closing of the Guantanamo Bay facility," the Defense Department said in its statement.

By the numbers: 37 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, according to the Defense Department's statement.

  • "18 are eligible for transfer; 7 are eligible for a Periodic Review Board; 10 are involved in the military commissions process; and two detainees have been convicted in military commissions," the statement said.
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